Hosea Chapter Nine

 

Read Hosea 9:1-6 – God Has Rejected Israel

 

v.1 Rejoice not, O Israel, for joy, as other people: for thou hast gone a whoring from thy God, thou hast loved a reward upon every cornfloor.”

 

            Just as the covenant God has made with the “called out”, the church, today is characterized as a marriage covenant the Holy Spirit through Hosea describes Israel’s relationship with God as a marriage covenant as well.  When they accepted this covenant at Sinai (Exodus 19:8)  they had joined themselves to the Almighty God as their God and pledged themselves to him and to no others.  But Israel did not keep that covenant and God views them the same way that a faithful spouse would view one that is unfaithful.  Israel has broken their covenant relationship, repeatedly, by setting up idols and worshiping them.

            In their infidelity they have attributed their well-being, their blessings to those idols and not to God who actually provided them.  He tells them that these blessings will be taken away and why in:

 

Hosea 2:12And I will destroy her vines and her fig trees, whereof she hath said, These are my rewards that my lovers have given me: and I will make them a forest, and the beasts of the field shall eat them.”

 

At this point in Israel’s history her apostasy is complete; the bounty of every “CORNFLOOR” or threshing floor is attributed and given to the worship of idols.

 

v.2-3The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail in her. 3They shall not dwell in the LORD’S land; but Ephraim shall return to Egypt, and they shall eat unclean things in Assyria.”

 

            Consequently the threshing floors and winepresses of Israel will no longer feed them.  God’s blessings will be removed and they will become as the poor and despised of every land, servants and slaves to foreigners, Gentile peoples.  The land in which they dwelt was the Lord’s.  They were told that at the giving of the original covenant:

 

Leviticus 25:23The land shall not be sold for ever: for the land is mine; for ye are strangers and sojourners with me.”

 

            Ephraim, representing all of the ten tribes of Israel, would “RETURN TO EGYPT”.   They would return to the kind of bondage from which God had rescued them under the leadership of Moses.  This occurrence is recorded as follows:

 

II Kings 17:66In the ninth year of Hoshea the king of Assyria took Samaria, and carried Israel away into Assyria, and placed them in Halah and in Habor by the river of Gozan, and in the cities of the Medes.”

 

            There they would not be able to follow the dietary laws of the Mosaic Covenant because God will have disowned them completely.  This is confirmed by Ezekiel:

 

Ezekiel 4:13And the LORD said, Even thus shall the children of Israel eat their defiled bread among the Gentiles, whither I will drive them.”

 

A personal thought is that the ultra-conservative position taken by the Pharisees are possibly a backlash against this period when they were forbidden to follow these dietary laws.  In Judah scripture tells us of one notable exception to this curse:

 

Daniel 1:88But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king’s meat, nor with the wine which he drank: therefore he requested of the prince of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.”

 

Daniel’s request was honored and he was able to eat without defiling himself before God.

 

v.4They shall not offer wine offerings to the LORD, neither shall they be pleasing unto him: their sacrifices shall be unto them as the bread of mourners; all that eat thereof shall be polluted: for their bread for their soul shall not come into the house of the LORD.”

 

            When Israel is taken captive into the Gentile cities they will not be able to “OFFER WINE OFFERINGS TO THE LORD.”  What is the significance of this curse?  They would not only be separated from God, they would not be able to worship God as he commanded.  The special privileges given to the chosen of God would be removed.  This would even keep them from receiving atonement for their sins as required under the Mosaic Covenant.

 

Leviticus 17:11 “For the life of the flesh is in the blood: and I have given it to you upon the altar to make an atonement for your souls: for it is the blood that maketh an atonement for the soul.”

 

The exile of the ten tribes was to be complete, not ending until such time as Christ came and redemption was offered to all men.  So they could not celebrate the Day of Atonement that was required under the Mosaic Covenant.  The atonement for sins under the Mosaic Law was different than under the New Testament law of Christ.  Under the Mosaic Covenant sin was not forgiven but, the most logical explanation seems to be, that their sin was set aside, not removed, but not forgotten.  Atonement under the law of Christ means that sins are removed, forgiven, forgotten, never to be resurrected again.  And when the sacrifice for sins that could remove the “SINS OF THE WORLD” was made, all of those sins that had been set aside under the Mosaic Covenant were then forgiven, removed and forgotten just as the sins committed under the law of Christ, when we follow the proper, God given, procedure to do so.  In their captivity this blessing would be removed from Israel.  Since they could not gain atonement for their sins Hosea now asks them this question.

 

v.5What will ye do in the solemn day, and in the day of the feast of the LORD?”

 

            When the special feast days, those solemn days in which they gathered as God commanded and worshiped him; those solemn days when the scapegoat was symbolically saddled with the sins of the people and sent into the wilderness ended what would they do?  The prophet Joel has already warned them:

 

Joel 1:13Gird yourselves, and lament, ye priests: howl, ye ministers of the altar: come, lie all night in sackcloth, ye ministers of my God: for the meat offering and the drink offering is withholden from the house of your God.”

 

And Hosea has already told them as well:

 

Hosea 2:11I will also cause all her mirth to cease, her feast days, her new moons, and her sabbaths, and all her solemn feasts.”

 

This is part of what it means to be cut off from God; to be completely abandoned by God, unable to approach him in prayer, unable to find any comfort in the thought that there will be a better day some day; with no forgiveness of sin, no hope in this world or in the world to come.  This is the fate that Israel is facing, their exile into foreign captivity is merely to be the beginning of their rejection by God.

 

v.6For, lo, they are gone because of destruction: Egypt shall gather them up, Memphis shall bury them: the pleasant places for their silver, nettles shall possess them: thorns shall be in their tabernacles.

 

            Hosea again uses Egypt and the slavery of Israel from which God delivered them to symbolize the slavery to which they will be returned.  “EGYPT WILL GATHER THEM UP”, not the physical country of Egypt but rather the same kind of slavery that their fathers endured before Moses.  The Memphis referenced here is, of course, the great city of Memphis which existed in Egypt.

            Their pleasant places, the places and things that they counted for their wealth would become fields of nettles, completely destroyed, leveled and overgrown with weeds.  Their places of worship would be overtaken with thorns, falling into neglect because there would be no one there to use them.

 

Read Hosea 9:7-10 – Recompense Is At Hand

 

v.7The days of visitation are come, the days of recompense are come; Israel shall know it: the prophet is a fool, the spiritual man is mad, for the multitude of thine iniquity, and the great hatred.”

 

            The day of God’s judgment is both a day of visitation and a day of recompense.  It will be a day of visitation because all of man’s sins that have not been removed will be enquired into and brought to light.  It will be a day of recompense because man will reap the consequences of this unrepented sin.

Just by looking around us in our world today we can see that those that consider themselves to be the most intelligent, the most knowledgeable consider anyone who preaches or teaches the word of God to be a fool.  They think that any man who tries to be spiritual is more than just a little touched, that those of us who believe in and worship God are just ignorance dolts that have been duped by superstition.  They have indeed become as Paul warned:

 

II Thessalonians 2:9-12 Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, 10And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. 11And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: 12That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

 

Just as many people today mock and ridicule the message and messengers of God; Israel now mocked the words of the messengers of God.  But that would end; end in their destruction.

 

v.8The watchman of Ephraim was with my God: but the prophet is a snare of a fowler in all his ways, and hatred in the house of his God.”

 

            There was a time when even the prophets of Israel, watchmen of Ephraim, were faithful to God and faithful proclaimers of His word.  An example is Elijah whom God sent unto Ahab, king of Israel:

 

I Kings 17:1And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word.”

 

There were even those who served these kings who were faithful to God:

 

I Kings 18:44For it was so, when Jezebel cut off the prophets of the LORD, that Obadiah took an hundred prophets, and hid them by fifty in a cave, and fed them with bread and water.)”

 

But those times have changed.  Most of the prophets have become wicked and are now caught in the snare of their own words.  These false prophets are now hateful and spiteful against those who did try to remain faithful.  If you don’t think the same thing happens today, even among our brethren; just visit with a faithful gospel preacher who has endured the hate and spite directed toward him and his family because he preached the truth of God’s word.  Or talk to anyone who has been reviled and belittled because they were faithful to God and stood in the way of those who were not.

 

v.9They have deeply corrupted themselves, as in the days of Gibeah: therefore he will remember their iniquity, he will visit their sins.”

 

            Israel has become deeply corrupted.  God here accuses them of becoming as sinful and corrupt as Gibeah, a city of Benjamin that was destroyed because of their sinfulness as is recorded in Judges 19 and 20.  To illustrate their particular sin for those who may not have studied the book of Judges recently their condition was very similar to that of Sodom and Gomorrah.

 

Genesis 18:20-21And the LORD said, Because the cry of Sodom and Gomorrah is great, and because their sin is very grievous; 21I will go down now, and see whether they have done altogether according to the cry of it, which is come unto me; and if not, I will know.”

 

And as we know Sodom and Gomorrah was destroyed because of their sin.

 

v.10I found Israel like grapes in the wilderness; I saw your fathers as the firstripe in the fig tree at her first time: but they went to Baalpeor, and separated themselves unto that shame; and their abominations were according as they loved.”

 

            God reminds Israel of the beginning of their relationship.  Even after having been led out of slavery by God, Israel was like “GRAPES IN THE WILDERNESS”, they were like naïve children, “AS THE FIRSTRIPE IN THE FIG TREE AT HER FIRST TIME”.  They were fresh and pure as the early fruit of a healthy tree, but they were easily distracted; they were easily led away from God.  Almost at the first opportunity they left God for a false god:

 

Numbers 25:1-3And Israel abode in Shittim, and the people began to commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab. 2And they called the people unto the sacrifices of their gods: and the people did eat, and bowed down to their gods. 3And Israel joined himself unto Baalpeor: and the anger of the LORD was kindled against IsraeL.”

 

            They “SEPARATED THEMSELVES UNTO THAT SHAME”, they didn’t follow the gods of their neighbors because they were duped or because they were fooled.  They separated themselves from God and followed the abominations of idol worship because that is what they loved instead of loving the ways of God who protected and nourished them.

Read Hosea 9:11-17 – Consequences for Israel’s Children

 

v.11  As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird, from the birth, and from the womb, and from the conception.”

 

            The name that Joseph gave his son Ephraim was given because God had made him fruitful in Egypt:

 

Genesis 41:52And the name of the second called he Ephraim: For God hath caused me to be fruitful in the land of my affliction.”

 

And the tribe of Ephraim was fruitful and in this prophecy Ephraim is used repeatedly to represent the entire nation of Israel.  But God says that this will end.  In the ASV the translations reads:

 

Hosea 9:11As for Ephraim, their glory shall fly away like a bird: there shall be no birth, and none with child, and no conception.”

 

As a result, under the heel of oppression they will diminish as a people.

 

v.12Though they bring up their children, yet will I bereave them, that there shall not be a man left: yea, woe also to them when I depart from them!”

 

            Even if there is conception and there are births in the land where Israel is exiled their children will be consumed by war and slavery.  God will bring judgments on Israel until there is literally nothing left of her that could be identified as this once powerful nation.

 

v.1313Ephraim, as I saw Tyrus, is planted in a pleasant place: but Ephraim shall bring forth his children to the murderer.”

 

            Ephraim had enjoyed God’s special blessings.  For Israel and for Ephraim God had indeed “DETERMINED THE TIMES BEFORE APPOINTED, AND THE BOUNDS OF THEIR HABITATION (Acts 17:26).  As a result Ephraim had become as strong and rich in this worlds goods as Tyre or Tyrus ever was.  Tyre or Tyrus was the home of the Phoenicians, world renowned as sailors and merchants.  They did bring their “CHILDREN TO THE MURDERER”.  This was the sacrifice of children to idols like King Ahaz of Judah did when he “WALKED IN THE WAY OF THE KINGS OF ISRAEL”:

 

II Kings 16:33But he walked in the way of the kings of Israel, yea, and made his son to pass through the fire, according to the abominations of the heathen, whom the LORD cast out from before the children of Israel.”

 

v.14-15Give them, O LORD: what wilt thou give? give them a miscarrying womb and dry breasts. 15All their wickedness is in Gilgal: for there I hated them: for the wickedness of their doings I will drive them out of mine house, I will love them no more: all their princes are revolters.”

 

            What could the Lord give Israel at this juncture in their history?  To not have children to bear the brunt of God’s wrath would indeed be a blessing just as it would be for the Jews when Rome came to destroy Jerusalem.  Jesus told them:

 

Luke 23:28-30But Jesus turning unto them said, Daughters of Jerusalem, weep not for me, but weep for yourselves, and for your children. 29For, behold, the days are coming, in the which they shall say, Blessed are the barren, and the wombs that never bare, and the paps which never gave suck. 30Then shall they begin to say to the mountains, Fall on us; and to the hills, Cover us.”

 

            “THEIR WICKEDNESS IS IN GILGAL  There are several locations with the name of Gilgal in the Old Testament but this one was in the land of the tribe of Ephraim, near their border with Judah.  It was a place of significance and one that had been used for sacrifices and worship to God.  It was home to a group of prophets (II Kings 2:1-2) and the place where Saul was anointed king of Israel (I Samuel 11:15).  It remained a place of worship under the northern kingdom, perhaps even the worship to God but the worship conducted there was in vain.

 

Hosea 12:11Is there iniquity in Gilead? surely they are vanity: they sacrifice bullocks in Gilgal; yea, their altars are as heaps in the furrows of the fields.”

 

Judah was warned not to go there:

 

Hosea 4:15Though thou, Israel, play the harlot, yet let not Judah offend; and come not ye unto Gilgal, neither go ye up to Bethaven, nor swear, The LORD liveth.”

 

v.16Ephraim is smitten, their root is dried up, they shall bear no fruit: yea, though they bring forth, yet will I slay even the beloved fruit of their womb.”

 

            What would be our reaction today if God told us through a prophet that we would be the downfall of our children?  That even when we bring children into the world that they were to suffer the consequences of our sins and be destroyed?  Needless to say I’m sure that we would be devastated.  This is the promise that God is making Israel.

            God has rejected Israel because she has rejected him and gone after strange gods.  Men do the same thing today when they reject the commandments of God and go after strange doctrines.  Those who preached righteousness, as Hosea did, were considered prating fools.

            The consequence for Israel is that they would be carried into captivity as slaves and servants, live among Gentile people who would care nothing for God, who would not all them to worship God as commanded under the Mosaic Covenant.  They would lose any opportunity to receive atonement for their sins.  As a nation they would be as dry chaff, blown about by the winds of time, never to exist again as a people.  The greatest blessing that God could give them in their circumstances would be to remove their ability to bear children.  Children who would suffer the consequences of the wrath of God against their fathers

 

Hosea 8:7For they have sown the wind, and they shall reap the whirlwind: it hath no stalk: the bud shall yield no meal: if so be it yield, the strangers shall swallow it up.”

 

They will reap the whirlwind.  A tornado is totally non-discriminating taking everything in its path.  Those of us who are even a little bit familiar with that kind of devastation can readily understand what the prophet is telling Israel.

 

v.17My God will cast them away, because they did not hearken unto him: and they shall be wanderers among the nations.”

 

            Hosea ends this section of his prophecy repeating the warning that those who are fortunate or perhaps unfortunate enough to survive all that God will bring against them will become wanderers among the nations.  They would become people without a home, without a country, without God and without any purpose beyond living from day to day until death relieves them of their burdens.

 

William L. Schwegler – Sunset church of Christ, Shreveport, LA; November 2, 2008